Minnesota went 0-6 before I went on vacation to Hawaii. By the time I got back, they’d gone 6-1. I think that’s a message that I need to live on Oahu for the rest of my life, so if anyone’s up for paying me my current salary, buying me a house there, and setting me up with a decent pension, I’d be happy to make the move.
Apart from the 20-1 drubbing of the White Sox, the Twins still lost that series to Chicago, but swept the Brewers in the first interleague weekend of the year. They’ve won two out of four against Boston so far, but it’ll be tough to make it a series win with Josh Beckett on the mound for the Red Sox today.
Evidently, the Twins have been hitting well lately, but they’ll still have to improve their form away from home to be truly competitive. But I’m happy to have returned from vacation to find Minnesota back at the .500 mark and leap-frogging the Royals in the AL Central as I get back to studying baseball again after a week or so ‘off duty’.
As expected, Justin Verlander pitched a great game Thursday, with an incredible career-high 13 strikeouts. Everyone’s been talking about Zack Greinke this season, but Verlander has thoroughly looked the part recently. After the crazy antics of the previous night, it wasn’t surprising that today’s game was a fairly low key affair at first, which the Tigers broke open in the sixth inning with five runs. But of course, this is baseball…
Tigers manager Jim Leyland took out Verlander in the seventh inning because he’d thrown 120+ pitches. He’d given up a Brian Buscher base hit and a Nick Punto walk (score: 5-0), but he still looked visibly upset, not surprisingly after such a domineering performance. Cue the Tigers bullpen meltdown, with the Twins scoring six runs to take a 6-5 lead, and just like that, Verlander doesn’t get a result, no more runs scored, and Joe Nathan had a quick and easy ninth to close out the game.
Despite the satisfaction of a series sweep against Detroit, the Twins now face a tricky set of games to round out May. 10 of their 17 upcoming games (without a day off) will be on the road, and their opponents will include the New York Yankees, Milwaukee Brewers, Chicago White Sox, Boston Red Sox, and Tampa Bay Rays. Gulp. If Minnesota can make it through that bunch more or less around the .500 mark, I think they’ll have done a good job, but it will be a very testing end to the month for sure.
Wait. That wasn’t supposed to happen! Where was the birthday-boy-Twins-victory-express when we needed it? Answer: firmly parked at the train station of doom. Apologies for the horrible metaphor, but the quality of said metaphor depends wholly on the quality of the ballgame.
With the rain falling down on a gloomy Fenway Park, the Twins looked terrible today. Scott Baker kept pitching it up, but did seem to gain some control later. The Red Sox bats were very hot today, and the Twins popped-up more times than a jack-in-the-box on crystal meth, even though they did actually have a few chances to make a game of it.
Morillo lost control, Dickey can’t knuckle-down like Wakefield, and the only saving grace was the game getting abandoned in the 7th, and the possible cancellation of the evening game, to save the Twins any further blushes.
Finally, a well-deserved rest-day for the Twins, and it comes at a time when the team is finally beginning to pick itself up and look like the class act it has the potential to be. With a tough little road trip this week (two games at Fenway against the Red Sox, and three games at Progressive Field against the Indians), it will be interesting to see where the team will be this time next week. Even if they go 3-2 over these upcoming five games, I don’t think anyone will be complaining.
The AL Central is very close right now, with no team off to a Marlins-like flying start, but everyone in the league is looking pretty competent so far, even the much maligned Kansas City Royals.
Good news for the Twins is the news that Joe Mauer should be back in the line up by May 1st. Even if he isn’t at full strength, his very presence in the team again should really boost morale and make the Twins even more competitive and fun to watch.